ANALYSIS: Three takeaways from Dayton’s loss to St. Bonaventure

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Grant: St. Bonaventure had ‘more fight and grit’ than Dayton

ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — The Dayton Flyers rushed to catch a plane in Buffalo after 68-59 loss to St. Bonaventure on Saturday night at the Reilly Center.

Explore» PHOTOS: Dayton vs. St. Bonaventure

Sophomore point guard Malachi Smith was the last player to leave the locker room. He couldn’t move too fast. He was on crutches as he headed toward the bus. He hurt his left ankle — the same one he injured in November — late in the second half while competing for a loose ball in a pile of players.

Smith spent the final minutes of the game with the ankle elevated on a stool at the end of the bench. It’s a scene UD fans will remember well from last season when he hurt his ankle in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

Smith didn’t think the injury was as bad as the one that cost him 11 games earlier this season but said he would have to stay off the ankle for a couple days.

“Hopefully, I’ll wake up tomorrow and feel better,” Smith said.

That would be a piece of good news after the Flyers hit another down note in a rollercoaster season. They suffered their first loss to St. Bonaventure since 2016 after seven straight victories in the series and their first loss at the Reilly Center since 2012 after six straight victories on Bob Lanier Court.

Here are three takeaways from Dayton’s 24th game:

1. Grant had strong words about his team after the game: Dayton got off to a strong start, building a 20-13 lead in the first half but was outscored 20-6 in the final 10 minutes of the first half and trailed 33-26 at halftime.

In the second half, Dayton got as close as one point with an 8-2 run in the opening minutes. Then back-to-back 3-pointers by Yann Farrell and a jump shot by Kyrell Luc pushed St. Bonaventure’s lead back to nine points. Dayton did not make another serious run and lost its third straight road game.

“If I’m being honest, I saw a team that had more fight and grit than we did,” Grant said.

Grant referenced his team’s “competitive character” and said “it’s been lacking.”

Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II, who led the Flyers with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting said, “Honestly, they just played more as a team. They played more hungry than we did. We weren’t fully locked in for the game.”

2. Dayton played short-handed again: Starting guard R.J. Blakney sat on the bench but was out of uniform for the second time in four games. Dayton lost 75-70 at Rhode Island without him and lost this game without him, too. In between, he played 23 minutes against Richmond and 17 against Loyola Chicago.

Grant did not get into specifics about why Blakney didn’t play against St. Bonaventure. He said he was “unavailable.”

Mustapha Amzil replaced Blakney in the starting lineup.

3. The Bonnies are on a roll: The Bonnies surprised Virginia Commonwealth last Saturday at the Siegel Center, winning 61-58 and then stayed in town until Wednesday when they beat Richmond 66-62 at Robins Arena.

With its third straight victory, St. Bonaventure (13-11, 7-4) moved into a tie for fourth place with Dayton (15-9, 7-4). St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt beat a Grant-coached team for the first time after losses in each of the last five seasons.

“I thought our effort was tremendous,” Schmidt said. “Dayton’s a heck of a team with great length and great size. It took us a couple of minutes to really figure out the speed and get comfortable with the speed. Initially, they were hurting us on the backboard. But I thought guys in the last 10 minutes of the first half were really defending. We executed really well. We got the ball inside to Chad (Venning), and Chad did a really good job. We hit some big shots. We had 10 assists in the first half on 13 field goals. So we were shooting the basketball. In the second half, we got off to a tough start, but we had a great crowd. The crowd really, really supported us and without them we probably wouldn’t be sitting here and as victors.”


Forward Chad Venning led the Bonnies with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting. All five St. Bonaventure starters scored in double figures.


The Bonnies made 9 of 24 3-pointers (37.5%), while Dayton made 4 of 20 (20%). Dayton is 1-4 when it shoots 20% or worse. Mustapha Amzil (2 of 3) was the only Flyer to make more than one 3-pointer.


Dayton plays first-place Virginia Commonwealth (18-6, 9-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va. VCU won two straight games on the road, 61-59 against Davidson on Tuesday and 73-65 against Saint Louis on Friday, after losing 61-58 at home to St. Bonaventure on Jan. 28.

VCU beat Dayton 63-62 at UD Arena on Jan. 13. VCU leads the series 16-8 and has won nine of the last 12 games in the series. Dayton routed VCU 82-52 on its last trip to Richmond on Feb. 5, 2022.


Dayton at VCU, 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network, 1290, 95.7

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